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Legislators prepare to challenge Sledd's confirmation

Anita Kumar

Five Democrats -- as well as two Republicans -- who serve on the committee that will vote first on incoming governor Robert Sledd's confirmation for commerce and trade sercretary said they have concerns that his service on corporate boards could create conflicts of interest.

As we told you earlier, chairwoman Sen. Janet D. Howell (D-Fairfax) said she would vote against Sledd's appointment unless he steps down from the boards of three large, global companies: tobacco giant Universal Corp.; Owens & Minor, a medical supply company; and Pool Corp., a wholesaler of swimming pool and spa equipment. "The public thinks we're all corrupt anyway," she said. "This just feeds that image."

Now, Sen. George L. Barker (D-Fairfax), also on the 14-member privileges and elections committee, says he "certainly could not commit to vote for anyone who is serving on private boards while serving as a Cabinet-level appointee." And Sen. John S. Edwards (D-Roanoke), another member of the committee says: "If it appears to be the way it is, I'd have a hard time voting for him."

Even a Republican says: "I am in hopes that the gentleman will choose to take the job -- we need him. But I hope he will make the decision to set the boards aside," Sen. Ralph K. Smith (Roanoke)."

McDonnell said this week that he is confident Sledd will be confirmed, but he did not rule out asking him to step down from the boards or disclose more information about his relationships with the firms. "We're going to find a way to work through this," he said. "Once the legislators get to know the heart of this man and get to know his incredible talent in growing jobs, they'll be very comfortable with him."

Read the full story here

By Anita Kumar  |  January 14, 2010; 7:55 AM ET
Categories:  Anita Kumar , Robert F. McDonnell  
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